Tag Archives: Gestalt

New HoP: Gestalt Psychology and Deafness, Professional Psychology and the German National Socialist State, & More

Hearing aids teach deaf children the rhythmic patterns of speech, Clarke School for the Deaf, Northampton, Massachusetts. March 1955.

The November 2017 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Articles in this issue explore the American Gestalt psychology’s role at the Clarke School for the Deaf, Luigi Luciani’s work on consciousness in relation to localizationism, and professional psychology in Germany during the National Socialist period. (A fun collection of images from the Clarke School for the Deaf from 1955 is also available from Getty Images.) Full details below.

“Planes of phenomenological experience: The psychology of deafness as an early example of American Gestalt psychology, 1928–1940,” by Marion A.Schmidt. Abstract:

When, in 1928, the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, Massachusetts, opened a psychological research division, it was nothing unusual in a time fascinated with the sciences of education. Yet with its longstanding ties to Northampton’s Smith College, the school was able to secure the collaboration of eminent Gestalt psychologist Kurt Koffka, who, in turn, engaged 2 more German-speaking emigrants, Margarete Eberhardt and social psychologist Fritz Heider, and Heider’s American wife Grace Moore Heider. This collaboration has seen little attention from historians, who have treated Koffka’s and Heider’s time in Northampton as a transitory phase. I argue, however, that their research on deafness adds to the history of emigration and knowledge transfer between European and American Schools of psychology, and to historical understanding of the interrelation of Gestalt, child, and social psychology. Professionals in child studies and developmental psychology were keenly interested in the holistic and introspective approach Gestalt psychology offered. Deaf children were considered a particularly fascinating research population for exploring the relationship between thought and language, perception and development, Gestalt, and reality. At the Clarke School, Grace Moore Heider was among the first Americans to apply Gestalt principles to child psychology. In a time in which pejorative eugenic beliefs dominated professional perceptions of disability, the Heiders’ groundbreaking work defined the deaf as a social and phenomenological minority. This was in opposition to dominant beliefs in deaf education, yet it points to early roots of a social model of deafness and disability, which historians usually locate in 1960s and ’70s activism.

“Localizationism, antilocalizationism, and the emergence of the unitary construct of consciousness in Luigi Luciani (1840–1919),” by Giorgia Morgese, Giovanni PietroLombardo, and Vilfredo De Pascalis. Abstract: Continue reading New HoP: Gestalt Psychology and Deafness, Professional Psychology and the German National Socialist State, & More

APA Time Capsule on the Bühlers

2016-02-time-capsule_tcm7-196733Adrian Brock‘s new piece in the February 2016 edition of the Monitor on Psychology looks at the differing professional experiences of Karl and Charlotte Bühler. He emphasizes how comparison of their respective careers provide examples of the ways that disciplinary reception of theory and research is context bound.

An excerpt from the article:

It is widely accepted that immigrants have to adapt to a new culture in their personal lives. What is often overlooked is that émigré psychologists had to adapt to a new culture in their professional lives as well. The differing success of Karl and Charlotte Bühler in the United States shows that some were more able to adapt to this new professional culture than others.

These local differences continue to exist. It might seem surprising that someone can be regarded as a major figure in the history of psychology on one side of the Atlantic and virtually unknown on the other, but this situation is not at all unusual. The only thing that makes Karl Bühler stand out from the others is that he spent the last 23 years of his life in one of the countries where he is virtually unknown.

Find the full work here.

New HHS: Mark May at the Institute of Human Relations, Neurofeedback & Selfhood, & More!

The July 2015 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. Among the articles in this issue are one’s on Durkheim’s followers, psychologist Mark May’s influence on the Institute of Human Relations at Yale University, and the relationship between neurofeedback and the self. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“On equal temperament: Tuning, modernity and compromise,” by Michael Halewood. The abstract reads,

In this article, I use Stengers’ (2010) concepts of ‘factish’, ‘requirements’ and ‘obligations’, as well as Latour’s (1993) critique of modernity, to interrogate the rise of Equal Temperament as the dominant system of tuning for western music. I argue that Equal Temperament is founded on an unacknowledged compromise which undermines its claims to rationality and universality. This compromise rests on the standardization which is the hallmark of the tuning system of Equal Temperament, and, in this way, it is emblematic of Latour’s definition of modernity. I further argue that the problem of the tuning of musical instruments is one which epitomizes the modern distinction between the natural and the social. In turn, this bears witness to what Whitehead calls the ‘bifurcation of nature’. Throughout this article, using the work of Stengers and Latour, I seek to use tuning as a case study which allows social research to talk both of the natural and of the social aspects of music and tuning, without recourse to essentialism or simple social construction. In this way, my argument seeks to avoid bifurcating nature.

“Young Durkheimians and the temptation of fascism: The case of Marcel Déat,” by Mathieu Hikaru Desan and Johan Heilbron. The abstract reads, Continue reading New HHS: Mark May at the Institute of Human Relations, Neurofeedback & Selfhood, & More!

New Book: Edgar Rubin and Psychology in Denmark

Scholarship on the history of psychology in Denmark has a new addition: Edgar Rubin and Psychology in Denmark. The volume is the work of Jörgen L. Pind, Professor of Psychology at the University of Iceland. Danish psychologist Edgar Rubin is perhaps best known today to students of psychology through his figure-ground illusion, Rubin’s vase (right).

As described on the publisher’s website,

Edgar Rubin and Psychology in Denmark tours a tumultuous century of history, politics, culture, and thought as reflected in the intellectual life of Denmark following the Golden Age of Kierkegaard and H. C. Andersen. Rubin’s scholarly journey takes him from the debate over the scientific study of “the soul” to the maturation of perceptual psychology, providing both human context for our modern understanding of consciousness and a timeline for the recognition of psychology as science. Besides his revolutionary discoveries in visual perception, less-known aspects of his work are explored, such as his observations on taste and the perception of speech, as is his relationship–and reluctant contribution–to Gestalt theory. In these pages, Rubin is portrayed as a thinker simultaneously of his time and place and distinctly universal and modern.

More detailed information about this volume can be found here.

Max Wertheimer in Frankfurt

I just ran across this blog post by Peter Melzer about the life of Max Wertheimer, and the application of his Gestalt ideas to physical chemistry.

Melzer notes that Frankfurt am Main, where Wertheimer was a professor, “had been a free city ever since Charlemagne’s rule and has always been a free-spirited place that had comparably friendly relations with its Jewish community before the Nazis came to power.” Wertheimer was Jewish and left Germany for New York soon after the Nazi’s assumed power in 1933. Frankfurt’s free character was maintained even during the Nazi years. According the Melzer:

Three years after the Wertheimers had left, der Fuehrer paid the City an official visit. A rally was to be held in the largest in-door venue (die Festhalle) on the City’s fairgrounds. Continue reading Max Wertheimer in Frankfurt

Gestalt Summary at Cognitive Daily

Kanizsa' subjective contour figureCognitive Daily‘s “History Week” continued yesterday with a summary of Max Wertheimer’s 1925 classic Gestalt article, “Laws of organization in perceptual forms.” (Actually it is the translation that appears in W. E. Ellis’ A Source Book of Gestalt Psychology. (Humanities Press, 1955). Perception researcher Alison Sekuler tells me that it is abridged and quite different from the original — so different that she is in fact planning to publish a new translation of the full original at some point, along with some historical commentary.)

The CD account includes some simple but effective animated graphics to demonstrate how the perceptual grouping of objects changes as their spatial relations change. Continue reading Gestalt Summary at Cognitive Daily

Mary Henle (1913-2007)

Mary HenleMary Henle has died at the age of 94. Dr. Henle was the sixth president of the History of Psychology Division of the APA (1971-72), and was a prominent historian of psychology and Gestalt psychologist.

Michael Wertheimer wrote of her:

Mary Henle, Gestalt psychologist, experimental psychologist, historian of psychology, and incisive critic of psychological theory, has been publishing influential works steadily for a period of half a century. ….She edited several Continue reading Mary Henle (1913-2007)